Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Where Mr and Mrs Duck live

Mr and Mrs Duck sharing a special day(birthday?) on the river.

Friday, 18 December 2009

A Wintery Walk and Christmas Greetings

Snowy fields
Coloured pencil

Merry Christmas!

This is my Christmas card for this year. 

One morning in the UK last year, I woke early  to find that there had been a light fall of snow during the night.  I was nice and warm inside so I sketched the scene from the window sitting in my pyjama's.
This scene was taken from that morning and my imagination.  I first I thought of  a single walker, maybe a famer checking his fields, but that seemed too lonely.  So  I added another set of footprints on the final version printed, and it became two people sharing a snowy walk.

The green/yellow haze in the sky is just my scanner mis-behaving and not some strange weather conditions.

I'm off to the UK tomorrow for Christmas, hopefully their snow will ease off and the airports will be open.  I'll be back in time to make some New Year's resolutions!
A Peaceful and Happy Christmas to everyone.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Finally finished, Autumn Leaves painting

Autumn Leaves
Oil painting 50x60cms

My favourite season is autumn, I love the colours and the falling leaves.
This painting is just about finished.  There are a few tweaks still to do,
 but I will put it away for a while. It seems to have taken ages to do and is
 the biggest I've done so far. 

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Do not read if you're hungry

Today is Santa Lucia,  a  day when traditionally Sicilians don't eat anything made from flour.

Like most saints there is always more than one legend around, but generally Saint Lucia is known for saving the population from famine in 1636.    So no bread or pasta is eaten to mark the day.  A real sacrifice for Sicilians!

Instead they eat Arancine - balls of rice stuffed then breadcrumbed and fried.    In the photo you can see the pointed ones, they are stuffed with mozzerella and ham and the round ones stuffed with rag├╣ meat sauce, but they can be stuffed with anything ..even chocolate!
Other dishes include chickpea fritters called Panelle and 'La Cuccia'
a sweet pudding made from boiled wheat.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A Monstrous Villa

The second of my 'monster' sketches from Villa Palagonia in
coloured pencil.

This is the other statue at the entrance of the Villa.  They are not really frightening and you can see much worse things on tv today,  but they were a creepy spectacle when the villa was built in 1705.
I would like to draw more of these and will make it a project for 2010, but I don't think I will be able to do all 62 of the remaining stone sculptures.

This is what the two statues look like at the entrance to Villa Palagonia.
See my sketch of the the other statue here


Sunday, 6 December 2009

The Monthly Sketch Project - December

A sketch of a 'water fountain' for The Monthly Sketch Project
I did this one with Derwent Graphitint pencils, sketching it first then wetting the drawing with water.
Once its all wet you can push the graphite around with your paintbrush, the more you use the more dense the colour.
I did find that it was quite difficult to get some dark darks, but possibly a better quality paper might hold more graphite layers.
This was a good subject to do as it fits nicely in with my previous post about the statues in an old villa.  I think this is some kind of fish?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Villa dei Mostri

A sketch of one of the first 'monsters' that you meet when you visit Villa Palagonia.  A most intresting place if not a little eccentric.
This one is at the entrance.  Villa Palagonia is a 17c Baroque Villa in the town of Bagheria.  The villa's garden is full of 'monsters', that is to say many statues and caricatures of man-beasts, dwarfs, beggars, ladies and knights.

The story is that the villa was built as the summer residence of the 7th Prince of Palagonia.  He had the statues installed as vengenance towards his pretty but unfaithful wife.  They are supposed to depict her lovers and insult her.

The gardens are very strange, but the villa is also beautiful inside.  This view from what is now the back is one that I have sketched as there is a convienent quiet road leading to the gate.  Sketching all the monsters would make an interesting sketch book.....I can feel an idea coming on!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A hand

Here's my attempt at the second project for November on  The Monthly Sketch Project .
Hands are not the easiest thing to draw, so this is good practice.  I find that its better to jump in and quickly draw them, because the more you fiddle the worse they get.  Toes are even worse!
This was done in 30 mins or so with Lyra coloured pencils.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


I tried to sketch this little fella from life but he wouldn't keep still!  So I had to do this drawing from a photo.  At least I could enlarge it.
Its funny how I used to be so scared of insects but after living here in the back of beyond I've seen so many I've got used to them..even spiders!
I've recently seen some enormous black and yellow caterpillars.  I don't what they will turn out to be..probably something big and hairy?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Monthly Sketch Project

This is my version of a photograph by Leslie Hawes on the monthly sketch project.   I really loved the photograph of the light diffused through the blue glass and I started quickly sketching it with coloured pencil..but I wish I had used decent paper instead of my sketch book.  The monthly sketch project

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Olive Harvest

Its time to pick the olives.  This is a sketch of the first batch.
The green olives get put into jars and the black (the more mature olives) get covered in salt to draw out the water in them.  They then become drier and wrinkly ..just right to be eaten! 

Sketch done with sepia ink and watercolours.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Pears and Shadows

I have been  going to a local painting class and really enjoying it.  I have played about with oils in the past, but its different when someone teaches you how it 'should' be done?
This is my first painting, about 30 x 40 cms.  I borrowed the image off  the Wet Canvas forum library so that I could concentrate on the actual painting while the composition and lighting was already done for me (thanks to karenboss).  The next one will be my own composition..its already on the drawing board!

Rain, rain go away!

For over a month we have been battered by wind and rain.  For an island that normally is very dry, we now have too much water I think.  The little river at the bottom of the valley has been rushing down to the sea and twice has split its banks.

Normally it is just a trickle in the summer and autumn and can be forded easily in a car.  Fortunately we are
higher up but some properties in the valley have been flooded and filled with mud.  This happens because
people build without permission and of course proper checks and regulations are ignored!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

UKCPS exhibition and Morris men!

This is a preliminary sketch for a piece I want to do in coloured pencil.
While visiting the UK last week I went to the UKCPS exhibition
at the RBSA gallery in Birmingham.
I had two pictures in the exhibition, but the main pleasure was to see so many pieces of coloured pencil artwork close-up. Many of the artists exhibiting I had only previously seen on internet, such a big difference to see their work in real life!
While we were in Birmingham city centre there were many different groups of Morris men dancing. I like the old traditons and some of the dancers are great characters like Pete in the drawing. Most interesting are their hats, covered in flowers, feathers and ribbons. I'd love a hat like that!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Green valley

After so much rain everything looks fresher and green. The dusty lane is more mud than dust. After many storms the river behind the trees in the sketch burst its banks, flooding the valley. Luckily we are higher up, but we were isolated for the day as the road couldn't be seen under the mud and water.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Storms and heavy rain

Bad weather coming in over the hills. Black heavy clouds waiting to burst. Eventually the rain was so dense and the clouds so low I couldn't see the buildings opposite any more.
Big storms here all week, summer's over...... at least I don't have to water the garden!
This one was done with Derwent soluble sketching pencils and Graphitone. A bit of colour added with Derwent drawing pencils. This took about 20 mins to draw and another 15 to wet with a paintbrush. Good fun pushing that graphite about!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Water soluble graphite pencils

In between thunder storms I sketched some trees at the back of our house. Not actually black..but nearly. I used Derwent water soluble sketching pencils and graphitone 2b pencil. Quite similar results, but I think the graphitone has the edge for me.

The best bit is wetting the drawing and seeing it transform . The graphitone can be dipped in water to add extra texture, I'm not sure that would do the wood much good on the sketching pencils.

I will definately be buying some more graphitone pencils, no problem about leads breaking either!

Sunday, 6 September 2009

New from old

This a work in progress. I'm covering a very ugly cement bench with mosaic, made out of broken tiles. The bench was originally built by the previous owners of my house, the tiles were also found hidden in and old outhouse. Some of them look to be from the 70's. Its time consuming, but I'm pleased with the results, having never done anything like this before. I also like the re-cycling aspect. There are lots of tiles left, so who knows what I will mosaic next!?

Friday, 28 August 2009

In my mind I'm still there..

Sitting here in the heat of the summer my mind drifts to soft, cool summer days in England.
Our summers in Sicily are harsh and dry, with never-ending days of sun. That might be paradise for some people, but I much prefer the pitter patter of rain!
This is a piece I've just finished, I will put it away for a few days before I finish the last tweaks.
A special place..but where?
Water colour underpainting and coloured pencil on top. 20 cmsx 25cms

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

UKCPS 8th Annual Open Exhibition 2009

Its official, the two pieces of art work I submitted to the uk coloured pencil exhibition have been accepted. I'm very proud to take part and even more so as the exhibition is being held in Birmingham at the RBSA. I was born in Birmingham (a long time ago) and I grew up not far away.

My two pieces are of Sicilian fisherman and are on my website. Here's hoping I can get over and see them for myself hanging in the same gallery with some of the best coloured pencil artists about. Soooo exciting!


I've been sketching with different types of pencils and pastels, using only black.
Its interesting how many different shades of black there are and it's a good exercise for improving tones using just one colour. I will try a wet media next.
Black is the right colour for our little valley, for weeks now we have had wild fires and most of the green on the hills opposite has been burnt. The good news is that the person responsabile has been caught red-handed. Here's hoping that nature can restore its former beauty.
Black is my colour this week...

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Home grown tomatoes

These are our first tomatoes this year...and they smell lovely. A quick drawing with water colour pencils and coloured pencils. I love all the red colours it makes a change from all the landscapes I do.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Looking out of the backdoor

The land behind the house goes up very steeply, to make it easier to cultivate terraces are cut out and held up with bricks and stone. This is a sketch of the part I can see from the backdoor. We grow lemons, olives, grapes and you can just see my tomatoes...still green! The light changes quickly and I worked fast to keep up.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Red Earth

This is a sketch of the view opposite my house. The trees are mostly olive trees and the red colour is the Sicilian earth. A deep clay red, hard as rock in the summer, when it doesn't rain, and thick and sticky in the winter, The red colour stains as well..no hope of getting it off your clothes! Done just as the sun settled behind the hills in watercolour and finished with coloured pencils.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

View from a window II

This is the view from my bathroom window. The light in the late afternoom lights it up and produces some amazing colours. My son when he was younger thought the trees on the side looked like elephants walking up to the top! Sketch done in watercolours and coloured pencil.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A view from my window

I actually painted this while I was sitting outside on the terrace. I love the tree perched on top of the rock and as I painted the shadows grew longer. Painted with my new portable watercolours then touched up later with coloured pencils, about 45 mins in all.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Locked door

There are a lot of abandoned rural huts down our lane, I think they were used for storage in the old days. They probably kept something to eat and drink in there too.
This one has only got half a roof and is home to a lot of weeds!
This was my first attempt at watercolour after quite a few years. It took me a while to remember how to do it!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A tree with a shadow

A picture I painted first in watercolour then I went over in coloured pencil, a method I am still experimenting with. I love coloured pencils but it takes so long to complete a picture that I needed to find some way of speeding the process up. I concentrated so much on the tree the background got a bit wonky, but it was a good learning experience. I will be doing lots more using the same combination.

In most of the villages there are trees like this along the road. This one has taken on a funny shape as it is constantly blown one way by the sea wind from the right.

The dusty lane

This is where I live, a photo taken in spring... so more muddy than dusty!
The trees just coming into flower are almond trees. They flower very early and on a warm spring day the smell is wonderful. I love to stand underneath and watch the bees doing their work. Very soon the petals get blown off and become confetti on the ground.


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